How do you make the transition from a fledgling idea to a successful company? You’ve enjoyed positive responses to your product. It’s passed a few initial tests. All systems are go.
Go how? Go where?
So we’d designed a cool skull pick. We’d even managed to do fairly well in Hall E, the belly of the NAMM trade show beast. And miraculously, our limited marketing strategy had attracted some attention. But the reality of our situation, as exciting as it was, had set in. And I was overwhelmed. Distributors had started to pepper us with technical questions – when would we start shipping? When would we start shipping? How would we start shipping!
I’d only ever licensed my products. Running a business was completely unfamiliar territory. I was uncertain as how to move forward without making a gross error. And I hadn’t really considered how the particulars of our new business would work. How, and who, would produce our product? How would we address orders? Shipping?
What the hell did we do now?
It was a little bit of an “Oh, yeah…” moment. You’ll probably have it too. It’s impossible to foresee all the specifics you’ll need to figure out, especially during that initial enthusiasm and energy. I realized very quickly that I didn’t have the experience to move forward: I needed help. I needed someone to explain how distribution worked, how cash flow operated, and how I could get into trade magazines. Essentially, how I could run a business for the very first time. I knew I would make mistakes, inevitably, but I wanted to limit the number I made as much as possible. If you need help, admit it. Trying to do everything on your own is a recipe for failure, not success.
I’ve said it time and time again, and I’ll continue to. Find someone who is doing something similar. Someone who is knowledgeable about the endeavor you are going to pursue, but not in direct competition with you. Use them as a mentor. Get close to that person. Let their knowledge reduce your fears and anxiety.
All these questions were mind-boggling, and downright scary. But I could lessen them, and I did.